RAF Ex-PoW Association
Recalling a great day
Cal Younger had intended to produce a special issue of The Kriegie to commemorate the unveiling of our Memorial by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron of the Appeal, on 14th May 2003, but this idea was superseded by the much better idea of a video.
Every member received a copy of the video, which, for those who attended the ceremony at the RAF Museum on that day, will remind them of a great occasion for the rest of their lives.
For those who were unable to be present it will be the next best thing; they will sense something of the atmosphere of the event as well as witnessing the facts of it.
Despite the lasting value of the video, it may be still appropriate, almost a year on, to publish some pictures of the occasion, to recall some of it in print and to thank a number of people who contributed to a momentous day.
The first thing to note, I think, is that 270 people were present. Members came who have not attended reunions or other Association functions for many years. For some it will be the last time they make such an effort. Present also were the C-in-C Strike Command, the Polish Ambassador and senior officers and officials from Commonwealth countries, also ATC cadets and members of the Museum staff.
ATC Cadets formed the Guard of Honour
The atmosphere was truly wonderful; it was created by friendships which have lasted through the years or were renewed joyfully on the day, by memories of comrades who have gone, by the goodwill of our guests, including members' wives and families, and especially by the patent interest and enjoyment of the Duke, who seems to flourish among ex-servicemen. A nice touch, following the unveiling was his gesture to our sculptor, Pam Taylor, who was sitting in the front row, to join him for a photograph.
Air Cdre Charles Clarke talks to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh,
watched by Sqn Ldrs Robbie Stewart and Bob Ankerson and standard bearer Peter Skinner
Our gratitude is due to many people. All members of the Committee worked hard, led from the front by the indomitable Charles Clarke, who was, as ever, full of ideas and for whom no detail was too unimportant to warrant his attention. His correspondence, always heavy, was prodigious. His was the idea of the Long March Memorial; he it was who won the approval of the RAF Museum for the siting of it. It was Charles who persuaded the Duke of Edinburgh first to become Patron of the Appeal and then to unveil the Memorial, wearing the Association tie. He was a brilliant Master of Ceremonies and host to the Duke and all our guests. He made the sale of models of the Memorial his business and personally delivered a number of them, each heavy enough to break your arms.
That we raised some £36,000 in a relatively short time was down, in the main to the late, much lamented Maurice Butt, who ran our appeal tirelessly, persuasively and with panache, though throughout he was fighting what he knew was a terminal illness. Hundreds of members, their friends and families contributed and substantial donations came from businesses, especially in Maurice's area, and from charitable trusts.
Dave Bernard worked out the protocol for the Ceremony and provided lighting and equipment, not to mention the gold-tasselled rope, at some expense to himself. His arrangement worked perfectly.
Squadron Leaders Bob Ankerson and Robbie Stewart removed the parachute covering the Memorial, a task deemed a little too difficult for the Duke. Peter Skinner, as always on these occasions, carried our standard.
Our own member, the Rev. Victor Cooper dedicated the Memorial and gave a brief but memorable address.
After the ceremony, using the address system, Dave Bernard told the story of the Long March and how it came about, for the benefit of visitors. Dave also took on the task of packing and dispatching the videos, and he provided the pictures included in this issue of The Kriegie. That's just for starters.
The Duke is interested in
Dave Bernard's medals
Phil Camp, Eric Hookings and Ted Duncan, among others, helped with the fundraising. Doug and Mary Endsor, as always when there is something going on that leads to an influx of money, coped with incomings and outgoings from various accounts and somehow didn't get catering bills and payments for videos or models mixed up. Doug and Mary are as modest as they are meticulous, neither is in the best of health, but they go on quietly keeping things running on the financial front. It is said that no-one is indispensable Doug and Mary are. Now the invaluable Bill Bloxham has the task of auditing the complex transactions.
We are grateful to Dr Michael Fopp, Director General of the RAF Museum, and his staff, especially those who took part in organising the event. There were several meetings at which they helped the Committee resolve various problems. Through Bob Ankerson's good offices, Media Services at RAF Henlow produced a wonderful commemorative programme and an entrance ticket which also was beautifully designed and produced. We thank the Manager, Andrew Whiteside and his staff. Members of the Middlesex Wing of the ATC gave a disciplined performance, forming a Guard of Honour and imbuing the occasion with a sense of continuity. Pianist Simon Townley played a very important part, particularly when he marked the entrance of Prince Philip. I am bound to have omitted the names of deserving people and to them I offer my apologies. Their contributions won't be forgotten.
A Note from your President/Chairman
I am pleased that Cal Younger is producing another edition of The Kriegie to record the unveiling of our PoW Memorial. It was a great effort on the part of all members and friends to fund the Memorial and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed in any way. Many of you also sent letters and I am only sorry that I was unable to respond to them all. Even my postman was overwhelmed.
It was difficult to choose a subject to symbolize our differing experiences and privations, but it has been generally agreed that a prisoner of war pulling a sledge on the long march is fairly evocative. We were fortunate to have the help and enthusiasm of Pam Taylor, our distinguished sculptor, to interpret our design to our time scale.
The unveiling by HRH Prince Philip set the seal on our efforts and the video shows only too well his interest in all the members present and their exploits.
The Memorial now forms the centre-piece of the PoW display at the RAF Museum, Hendon and it is now up to all of us to support the display by donating or loaning any memorabilia we have. This fits in well with the aim of the Ministry of Defence to remind all school children of the debt they owe to WW2 veterans. This year will also be marked by commemorations at both Sagan and in the UK, and a number of channels will be showing special program featuring PoW life.
Many thanks for all the support you have given your Committee, and we certainly need all the help we get as our numbers decline.
Cal Younger, editor of The Kriegie wishes to thank: Mr Andrew Whiteside and Ms Shilpa Chauhan of Media Services RAF Henlow for the splendid issue of The Kriegie from which these extracts are reproduced, with permission; the Station Commander, Group Captain Paterson who gave his full support. Squadron Leader Bob Ankerson who arranged it all and Ted Cachart who, for many years, has prepared The Kriegie for the printer, and without whom it would probably not still exist.
A Long March Diary
NZ POWs' accounts of the Long March
from the December 2002 issue of The Kriegie
Thanks to Maurice Butt's unflagging efforts, despite his indifferent health, we have raised £28,350 for the Royal Air Forces Prisoners of War Memorial Trust. About two thirds has been donated by members of the Association, including widows - who have been more than generous, though some we know could ill afford it. We received a wonderful gift of £2,500 from the Lashenden Air Warfare Museum, our longterm benefactor, and a grant of £2,500 from the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust, negotiated by our President, who has also persuaded contributions from several other sources.
The Hilden Charitable Fund, of which Cal Younger is a trustee, has donated £2,000 and £1,000 has come from The Robertson Trust in Glasgow. Some small trusts and businesses, especially in Maurice's own area, have also been generous. Ceridwen Lewis, widow of Alex, sent £100 being the proceeds from a cake stall she stocked from her own and her daughter's kitchens and ran as part of the Jubilee celebrations.
We have also received handsome contributions from Canada, which are not included in the total given above.
from the December 2002 issue of The Kriegie
Pam Taylor, a distinguished sculptor, whose work includes the Royal and Allied Air Forces Memorial which stands on Plymouth Hoe and the bust of Sir Arthur Harris displayed at the RAF Museum at Hendon, is now working on our memorial, which will depict a kriegie, on a forced winter march, trudging through the snow, dragging his sledge behind him.
Using her husband as a model, Pam produced a maquette. This put the idea into three dimensions and enabled us to advise on detail. Initially she had to rely on guesswork to some extent.
She has now completed another maquette, incorporating our suggestions, and is now engaged upon the statue itself. This vvill be cast in bronze and is to be sited in a new section of the RAF Museum. Until now, kriegies have been under-represented at the Museum, but that will be put right when the new area is complete. It was intended originally that the statue should be life-size, but the site does not allow of this and the work will be three-quarter size.
Funds raised to date are sufficient to meet the sculptor's fee, plus the cost of casting the piece and its conveyance to the site. We estimate that about another £20,000 will be needed, of which £13,000 will be required for the plinth, for engraving and for installation (a crane will have to be hired). Maintenance and various other costs account for the balance. As expected, money is coming in more slowly now, but there are other sources to explore and we hope, too, that members who have made donations might consider a further gift.
A TRIBUTE - Maurice Butt
By Peter Skinner
In the late 70s I attended my first RAFs Ex-PoW Association AGM, held at the RAF Club, Piccadilly. I had previously entered the Club in the line of duty whilst serving in the RAF as an NCO during the 50s, but never on a social basis.
So here I was on the first floor, trying to remember the concierge's directions, when a beaming face with piercing, twinkling eyes confronted me. "Hello, old chap, is this your first meeting? Let me buy you a pint. Follow me." Within minutes I had a pint in my hand and had been introduced to two other first-timers and some of the Committee. Then my host was gone and greeting other arrivals with the same kindness and humour.
His name was Maurice Butt and for many years we enjoyed a pint and each other's company, and always a Christmas card. A staunch supporter of our Association and of other causes too, and in particular, determined to see our Memorial come into being, Maurice was to me, first and foremost:
"An officer and a gentleman"
Maurice Butt died on 27 February aged 84. Despite a terminal illness, which he bore with typical fortitude, Maurice took on the task of co-ordinating the appeal for our Memorial. He sought donations with perseverance and good humour and recorded literally hundreds of gifts, always keeping a running total, which made things easier for the Treasurer and the auditor.
An early member of the Association, Maurice contributed a great deal to it over the years, including his chairmanship of the Committee during which he hosted the 1977 Jubilee Reunion dinner at which Prince Philip was our guest-of honour. In the last few years he organised our very active East Anglian branch. His death follows that of Dick Troward, his very good friend.
Another close friend was Bill Garrioch, who died in October 2001. Together they joined Armstrong Whitworths, Coventry, as indentured apprentices in 1936. They were paid 9 shillings and eleven pence per week. They joined the RAFVR as sergeant pilots in 1938, training on alternate weekends and receiving one shilling per hour. Both ended up in Germany but did not meet each other until after the war, Maurice having been commissioned and Bill not. Maurice was one of the very early prisoners incarcerated at Spangenberg and was an escape enthusiast right through his years of captivity.
After the war Maurice continued his engineering career, becoming a college lecturer.
The editor plans a further tribute in the next issue.